Shingles is a viral infection that causes a painful rash. It is caused by the same virus that causes chickenpox. It reactivates in about 20% of people who already had chickenpox.
Shingles is a second eruption of the varicella-zoster virus, the virus that causes chickenpox.
The groups most at risk of developing shingles are people with weakened immune systems, people over the age of 50, and people who have been ill or who have experienced trauma.
A person with shingles can pass the varicella-zoster virus to anyone who has never had chickenpox. This usually happens through skin contact with an open shingles sore.
Luckily, the varicella-zoster virus cannot be spread to another person with a normal immune system who has already had chickenpox.
Shingles is characterized by an outbreak of rash or blisters on the skin. It often appears as a band of blisters that wraps from the middle of your back around one side of your chest to your breastbone. The rash typically occurs only on one side of your body. This is a distinguishing sign of shingles and will help to diagnose the virus.
Other symptoms include:
• Pain, burning, tingling, numbness or extreme sensitivity in a certain part of your body
• A red rash that begins a few days after the pain
• Fluid-filled blisters that break open and crust over
• Fever and chills
• Upset stomach or abdominal pain
Shingles are very contagious, especially to people who have never had chickenpox.
The chickenpox vaccine and the shingles vaccine are also recommended ways to help prevent shingles and its complications.
Most people will recover from shingles and will not get it again. Symptoms are often treated with antiviral or pain relief medications; however, there is no cure for shingles. Early treatment is essential. Call your doctor or the Student Health Center if you experience any of the symptoms listed above.
You will remain contagious until the rash heals completely. Thus, it is very important that you avoid contact with people, especially individuals you have never had the chicken pox, pregnant women, babies, and those with weakened immune systems.
References: WebMD and Mayo Clinic.
Search the articles and topics in this site: